May 14, 2009

Permanence, Tangents and Runaway Trains of Thought

So, a "discussion" with Kat has led to a bit of introspection. It started with her wanting to move back to Dallas. Closer to family, friends, etc. I, on the other hand, have no reason to do so. No (immediate) family, friends or etc. No reason and no desire to move. That's when I learned her plan was only to be here about three years; the same amount of time as we spent in New Orleans. That was about two years ago. My plan was to be here about ten years. Maybe more. Actually, I have no exit plan. Needless to say, this put us at odds with each other.
I really don't know where I would like to live next. I do know I don't want Dallas. Ironically, eight years ago, I didn't want to leave it. Dallas was permanence. Florida was a place I wanted to live, but not until we had kids and they were old enough to enjoy what this place has to offer.
Now, I have an aunt and uncle and two cousins in Dallas. That's it. My parents have since moved. I have lost contact with the so-called friends I had there. Dallas now feels intangible.

The introspection part: My parents lived in the same house for over 30 years. We grew up there. My grandparents lived in the same house or town for several decades. My grandmother and only surviving grandparent lives in a house that was built before the turn of the century. The 20th century. Talk about permanence. My dad worked at the same company for over 30 years. He retired from there. Both of my grandfathers did the same in their respective careers. I realize that was a different time and place. Still, these are the ideals I have in my head when it comes to how I see living in a particular locale. I want permanence. At least what passes for it in the 21st century.
I think about my grandfathers much more now that Chase has entered my life. I especially think about the advice they imparted. The stories they told. The habits and lifestyles they kept. I know that I learned to love reading by having them read stories to me. Or when they would tell me stories and jokes. Further, I only heard one cuss word uttered by either one of them. And I only heard it once. (The D word.) In fact, the closest thing to an off-color joke my mother's father ever told around the grand kids is still one of my favorites. Indulge me:
A farmer came in at the end of a long day. Exhausted, he tells his wife all about what occurred. "Joe and I were plowing the North end of the farm, when a rattlesnake spooked Joe's horse. The horse took off with the plow behind him but Joe didn't let go of the plow. I yelled at Joe to let go, but the horse was just going too fast. Then they got to the treeline and the horse made a sharp turn. Joe was whipped into the trees. Joe was pretty cut up, but the worst was that he took a branch to... you know... his back side... to that um, opening..."
"Rectum?" asked his wife.
"Wrecked him! Durn near killed him!"
I was about 10 years old at the time. I knew what a rectum was. But the play on words intrigued me. I suddenly found there were several layers to how words could be used. I also know that this is when I began listening to words sung in country music. Those lyrics were full of double meanings and plays on words. For a frustrating summer, I attempted to write songs just like I was listening to. They ranged from pitiful to downright appalling. My career as a song writer ended, and I think the world is a much better place because of that.

I have been wondering if any of my grandparents would have moved around more. In today's world, where would they have ended up? I do know that they did move early on in their lives. My father's mom and dad moved to California from Kansas during the Great Depression. So did many others, all out of necessity. And I know that my great-grandfather really got around. He started out in Ohio, made it as far west at California, through the South including Texas and Tennessee, and if memory serves, he lived in Illinois and Nebraska before landing in Kansas. Why that kind of wandering/exploring gene became dormant for the next few generations still puzzles me. Don't get me wrong. I love visiting/exploring other places, just no desire to live there for any length of time.

Which brings me back around to permanence. And on to a much larger issue of why. What is it that I seek with permanence? I realize I am not a fan of change, but it goes beyond that. Why stay in any one place?
I know some want to make their portion of the world better than how they found it. I know some are a slave to a job/career. And I know some who live in a place for what the surroundings provide them. I mostly fall into the third category. While so much of the country freezes, I can enjoy some of the world's best beaches. For some, the entertainment here is not their cup of tea, but for me, a morning at the theme parks is great fun. If I ever move from here, I know that I would miss it. And dwell on it several times a day.

Maybe I am being selfish. I know that it would be good for Chase to see his grandparents more. But I am afraid that living in Dallas, the number of visits would drop off dramatically over time. When we lived there, we would see her family maybe once every two to three months. They never came to us. We would go there.
I have even thought about some kind of compromise. Maybe in Texas, but in the Hill Country. That way family is close for her, but still places for me to enjoy. Would either of us be happy with that? It seems like asking a doctor to remove a tattoo from a leg, and then place it on an arm.

And here is where the tangents and trains of thought have led. For now, I think we will be here for some time. Chase will have his formative years in the state of his birth. And I would like to think that my reason for being here will move towards making here a better place than I found it. Kat already is doing that with teaching. And what better type of permanence (memory) could there be than shaping the minds and lives of future generations?

No comments: